Having played Louie in the classic American sitcom Taxi, do you find it easy hailing a cab?
They usually don’t spot me in my hat and glasses. But once I’m in, after a mile or two I’ll see the driver looking in the rear-view mirror and he’ll go, “Hey, is that you?” Every time, that’s how it starts.
Do you always get a free ride?
No, but then I wouldn’t want a free ride. Those guys work real hard and the way the economy is, I’m more than happy to pay. It’s funny, in New York you have to give the drivers directions. Half of them just don’t know where the hell they are. London cabbies are the best.
What British comedies or comedians make you laugh?
I’ll watch Ricky Gervais in anything he does. The guy’s hilarious. Episodes is very funny. I love anybody who’s got a wiggy thing going on. So I used to love Benny Hill because he’s nuts. And Monty Python.
What TV shows won’t you miss?
I never missed Homeland when it was on. Or Deadwood. I watch Jon Stewart a lot, too – I’m a big leftie. And a lot of news.
What are your favourite British programmes?
I know you guys have got a history with him, but I enjoy watching Piers Morgan over here. He also took to task a couple of people who needed it during the gun-control debate. Piers is OK by me.
Which British programmes aren’t you keen on?
Rhea [wife Rhea Perlman] loves Downton Abbey. The costumes are great, let’s put it that way.
What’s your guilty pleasure?
Project Runway. It’s a fashion design reality show. It’s very girly but my daughter got me into it. They have a challenge about an outfit and there’s all the cattiness and backdoor chiding. And of course Heidi Klum’s on it and she’s got a figure that will never quit. So yeah, guilty!
Who was your first screen crush?
Back in the day, Elizabeth Taylor. Then there was Kim Novak, Natalie Wood. I also dug Ann-Margret, and then Brigitte Bardot when she came along. Oh, I had a few.
Have you seen the stage show of Matilda?
No, because I directed the movie and I get very sensitive and protective about these things, so it’s best I steer clear of the show.
You seem to be big on Twitter?
Yeah, I love it. My first tweet was “My balls are on fire!” And they were. I was doing a show and excited about it so wanted to share it with the world. I like to post pictures of my right foot in various places. It’s called Troll Foot. I’ve snapped it up the Eiffel Tower and all over the world. It’s just my thing. And besides, I have got a very good-looking foot. Look… [removes shoe, places bare foot on table]
Have you ever walked out of a film at the cinema?
No, but I’ve walked out of a couple of plays on Broadway because they were so tedious. Luckily I had my kids with me, because if I walk out of a play it’s in the papers. And it was! I got the call asking me why I walked and I told them my kids were ill. Great excuse.
You’re renowned as a great dancer. Fancy doing Strictly?
It’s true I’m a really good dancer. Oh I’ll do the mashed potato all night. Come on, I’m from New Jersey! But I’m not a great slow dancer so ballroom wouldn’t work for me. I’m on the short side so my head would be right in the boobs. And that’s not a good look on prime time.
QUICKFIRE Q & A
1. Jay Leno or Piers Morgan? Piers Morgan
2. Jonathan Ross or Johnny Carson? Johnny Carson
3. The Simpsons or South Park? South Park
4. Jamie Oliver or Gordon Ramsay? Jamie Oliver
5. Superman or Batman? Batman
6. Billy Connolly or Lee Evans? Billy Connolly
Taxi is on CBS Drama on Sunday at 4:30pm